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Lessons from the Thai Cave Rescue

Thai Cave Rescue

It felt like the whole world, whatever our differences, has been united around our shared hope that the children and their coach be rescued.
I call the source of the shared unity, that shared energy, “God”. You use whatever term you feel more comfortable with.
17 days.
Mission impossible.
I was certainly conscious of them constantly – praying for them; waking in the middle of each night, checking the numbers out, praying, conscious of others praying – however you think intercession works, however you think God works…
There was the waiting for news before they were found – as the story began to increase in profile.
There was the first encounter – so seemingly understated – with boys as young as 11 who had been there for ten days, in the dark, with no idea if anyone was even coming.
There is the shock of Saman Kunan’s death, a volunteer, diving to lay oxygen tanks and running out himself.
There is the bravery of all involved, and the endless volunteers for all the necessary tasks from the most mundane to the most complex.
There is the international cooperation; the various languages.
The leadership of the divers, and of the whole operation in such a humble, never a “look at me” way, all the way to Chiang Rai province’s acting governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn.
There is the amazing group of parents.
There is the creation of an agreed plan.
There is the actual grueling, terrifying physicality involved, squeezing through a flooded 37 cm (14.5 inches) gap where you have to bend and turn and divers have to take off their own tank.
It intrigued me how our media in New Zealand responded – on TV and Radio, presenters regularly spoke of “crossing their fingers”, “crossing everything”, but I did not hear any mention of God or prayer. In our country, crossing one’s fingers is clearly more scientific, more 21st Century, than God or prayer.
Then there were the stories of the coach having spent a decade in a Buddhist monastery, and the understanding that this gave him the resources to help the boys in a culture where spirituality and meditation are ubiquitous. Certainly, the first images were of young people peaceful.
The value of each human life has been dramatically illustrated. May this realisation enable us, motivate us to put shared energy into other situations, less dramatic it may seem, where we can save and enhance a life.

The words of John Volanthen, the lead diver who was one of the two to finally discover them alive: “I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”

How refreshing to have some great news dominating our media.
Please share the positive things you learnt over these weeks following this story.

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17 Responses to Lessons from the Thai Cave Rescue

  1. Actually I think one of the presenters last night said something about ‘We’re all thinking and praying…’
    So, maybe not just crossing fingers!
    But what a terrific outcome overall.

    • Thanks, Mike – my “fingers crossed” point was an aside reflecting on our NZ (media-driven) culture which regularly reports faith from a silly or scary perspective but can comfortably embrace finger crossing. Who was the presenter, on which media? Or was this an overseas presenter on NZ media? Blessings.

  2. Two things stood out for me, one, also reflecting on the calmness of the boys. In the video of the British divers first discovering the boys, there was some communication problem. The divers asked how many there were and they said 13, which meant everyone had survived to that point. Then the divers were trying to explain that many people were engaged in the task of looking for them. They tried to say that they needed to go and alert the other searchers of the location of the boys and you can hear one small voice say, “OK, see you tomorrow.”

    The other was regarding the 25 year old coach, after he came out of the caves. Of everyone that was there, he was in the worst physical condition, because he had survived on very little of their meager provisions as he had given the major portion of his share of food & water to the boys.

  3. As with you I have used prayers of intercession for Gods Mercy on all those involved, to bring their best selves and expertise to this rescue, which they all did.

    My continued intercession is that all of us in this world come to an understanding that we need each other as life is so valuable. TBTG

  4. I prayed and my friends prayed. We joyously posted and said over and over Thanks be to God! I was touched by how many gave of their gifts. Not all of could dive but some could cook, a woman came and did laundry, Buddhist monks came and prayed, others comforted the family. For me who lives thousand of miles away and can’t dive, I joined the many who prayed, hoped and checked the news. Thanks be to God!

  5. I was struck by how the international community can work together, no jockeying for position, no “me first”, no “We’re number 1.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could take that attitude into our international summits?

  6. Indeed, we saw the hand of God at every turn during the entire rescue, but even more compelling was the clear evidence of God’s providence long before the children entered the cave. In God’s precise planning for every event of our lives, He had already appointed particular individuals as divers. He gave them the courage, passion, and skills to carry out their assignments for such a time as that rescue. He even appointed some individuals with dual assignments as both divers and medics. As if that were not enough, He also sent a “stateless” child with the ability to speak five languages to Thailand for such a time as that; that child’s assignment illustrated the scripture that instructs us to welcome strangers, because they might be angels among us. I am always fascinated at how God multitasks in showing his perfect omniscience and continuous guidance. I observed how the international partnership in rescuing children (not adults) dominated the media at a time when America’s treatment of immigrant children has been prominent in the news. We should not overlook the timing of this international call for compassion and care of all children. There is no question in my mind that God intended for the world to receive a broader directive. Nor should we overlook the imperative to bring every child to the knowledge of God. I did not miss the symbolism of the rescued children receiving the gift of new life through narrow tunnels, as if they were being born again, literally, inspired me to pray that each of them will find the true God, and come to understand that God is real.

    I grieve when I hear anyone say there is not evidence of God; even Buddha failed to see the evidence of God. Just as we see a great deal of symbolism in this rescue, there is fundamental evidence of the hand of God in every one of our bodies. Every human being is nurtured by blood in utero, and every one of us is protected by water within the amniotic sack. Yet we miss this symbolism when we are told that Jesus’s blood was shed for us, and that we must be baptized with water for protection and salvation. Some of us accept that God has written His laws spiritually on our hearts, but we seem to miss the significance of His physical template in the bodies of every one of us. How could anyone fail to see this clear evidence of God, and His plan for humanity? The holiness of His design is concretely illustrated within us, even more clearly than the breath of life that sustains us. Therefore, my prayers are not only for the boys, but also for every one of us who needs to acknowledge the hand of God with awe and humility. Amen.

    • Wow, there are all sorts of issues that I have with this whole approach. I find it insulting to the entire Thai population that you think they need to find the “true God.” That the millions of prayers that were offered day and night in that one country alone somehow fell on the deaf ears of a fake God.

      And while God was planning out all of these details for everyone’s life for this horrendous experience, did God also preordain that the retired Thai Navy Seal diver, Saman Gunan, would have to die? If so, I personally have a real hard time believing in that “true God.”

      • David, belief in God as our divine Creator is not an insult to anyone. In fact, our failure to acknowledge and praise the omniscience, providence, love, and patience of our Creator every day of our lives, as well as in this amazing rescue episode, would be the greater error. Christianity is not a matter of anyone’s opinion; its doctrine is based upon the inerrant Word of God.

        Notwithstanding my unshakable belief in God, one of the principal tenets of Christianity is that each of us has free will to believe whatever we choose, but Romans 1:19-20 speaks clearly to me with respect to some of my comments.

        Our love and appreciation for Navy Seal Saman Gunan overflows, and scripture tells us that he, too, belongs to God. We submit to God’s will in all things, including death. I have had three bouts of cancer over 36 years, and I am approaching the 18th year since my most recent breast cancer. I do not fear death any longer, because I have learned that God is entirely in control. Had I died after the first cancer, I hope that my loved ones would not have lost their faith in God because of my death.

        Finally, even if, in your words, millions of prayers fell on the deaf ears of a fake god (or many fake gods), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is omnipotent; He will answer a single child’s prayer. Again, my comments were not intended to spark a contest between or among Gods, but to praise the God who says that He knitted each of us in our mother’s womb, and that the very hairs on our heads are measured. That was the context in which I Praised God for showing His providence in the enormously challenging rescue. Peace.

        • Sadly, in your intent to praise God, for me, you were quite insulting in a number of aspects.

          It’s interesting that you have this vision of the soccer team being delivered as a baby in their rescue. The mountain under which the boys were trapped is locally known as the sleeping lady and the caves are thought to be her genitals, vagina and uterus!

          In thanksgiving, the boys and their coach are said to be going on a Buddhist retreat when they are physically capable of doing so. They will shave their heads, enter a monastery and live the lives of Buddhist monks for a period of time in thanks for their rescue and for the life lost during their rescue.

          The team wasn’t told of Saman Gunan’s death until they were all together in the hospital. They were quite devastated to learn what happened. They, their families, their nation are grateful for his service, but it isn’t apparent that any of them view it as the will of God.

          BTW, I don’t fathom to what you allude in the reference to Rom 1:19-20.

          • It is possible, David and Carol, that you have some disagreements, but also that in some things you express things differently and are talking past each other on those. Blessings.

  7. My apologies, David. Again, it was not my intent to insult you. The concept of symbolic new life is fundamental in Christianity. In fact, it is what we seek during our lives, and hope to experience after death as Christians. I am grounded in the belief that the supernatural character of God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. The Bible supports this understanding; thus, I speak in terms that express my faith, but I am no one’s judge.

    I made a point of looking for a website that mentioned God after the rescue, because I had heard no mention of God, in any context. I simply wanted to praise Him in a proverbial “public square.” Again, that, too, is consistent with Christianity. We are told in scripture to “praise God; praise His holy name.” Christians must always be eager and free to do that. I was delighted to find this site, and I encourage others to praise our loving God for His amazing works in every realm of our lives, as well as in this rescue.

    Regrettably, we are talking past each other, but I hope that we gleaned something from our exchange. Peace be with you.

    Thank you, Rev. Peters, for moderating.

    • Thanks, Carol. I am fascinated that you found this site in the way that you did – I am often intrigued by how people find this site. Do poke around more – there’s even an online Chapel as part of this site. Blessings.

  8. David, as I close my comments regarding your objections, I want to thank you for informing me that the Cave is known as the “Sleeping Lady.” I had no idea of that legend, but I just read about it. I might have omitted my analogy of new birth, had I known. In fact, the symbolism occurred to me, as I was drifting off to sleep one night. I dare not call it a mere striking coincidence, though. I stand by the significance of the rescue to me.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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